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Jailed NASA scientist asked to engage in spying for Turkey in US

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Serkan Gölge, a 37-year-old physicist and research scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US who was jailed last summer due to his alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement, was asked by Turkish police to serve as a Turkish agent in the US, according to his lawyer.

Gölge was detained on July 23, 2016 in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in Turkey and was subsequently jailed.

He was kept in police custody for 14 days.

According to a report on the t24 news website on Monday, Gölge’s lawyer said during the 14 days of his detention Gölge was woken up from his sleep late at night for an “illegal interrogation” six times.

“They asked my client during all six interrogations to tell them what he knew, and my client said he didn’t know anything. Then they told him ‘Work for us’,” said the lawyer.

Gölge’s lawyer also added that others who claimed to be working for the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) told Gölge that since he was an American citizen, he could go anywhere in the US to collect intelligence.

Gölge, who has been imprisoned for the past 11 months, is accused of being a follower of the Gülen movement, which is labeled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the mastermind of the failed coup attempt. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

Gölge has denied being a Gülen follower and helping to organize the coup attempt. He is one of more than 50,000 people imprisoned in the aftermath of the coup, including journalists, diplomats and human rights activists, Foreign Policy reported on Friday.

During the second hearing of Gölge’s trial at a high criminal court in the southern province of Hatay on May 26, the informant who reported Gölge to the police for being a member of the Gülen movement and working for the CIA turned out to be the brother of Gölge’s brother-in-law, who had no evidence but suspicions based on the fact that Gölge was working in the US.

Police could not find any evidence against the scientist in the first search of Gölge’s family home in Hatay. The police came up with a $1 bill as the only evidence after a second search three hours later. According to the government, the Gülen movement distributed $1 bills to its followers.

Gölge’s lawyer argued during the hearing on May 26 that the bill might have been planted in the house by the police, who, he said, asked Gölge several times to spy for them in the US.
The judges have extended the imprisonment of Gölge, whose next hearing is scheduled for July 4.

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